Benitez warning for players
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has warned his
players they will have to be “strong to survive” in the
Carling Cup as Watford can still grab a place in the
The Spanish boss saw enough of Ray Lewington’s battlers
in the 1-0 semi-final first leg victory at Anfield to
know the threat from the Championship side has not been
“They have already beaten Premiership teams on their own
ground, so we know how difficult it will be there,” said
“Just taking a one-goal lead there is not the best and
if they play as they did at Anfield it will be a tough
night for us.
“We will have to be very strong to survive.”
The former Valencia boss is gradually moulding Liverpool
into the side he wants them to be but even a coach who
was won two Spanish league titles admitted he is still
learning, especially now he is in a country foreign to
“Watford started the game thinking about not conceding a
lot of goals, but after they had seen that they were
doing OK and we were not playing well, they felt able to
try to score themselves and they made it very hard for
us at times,” he said.
“I was very impressed with them. We know it is going to
be difficult now (in the second leg) and I have
discovered that such games are always difficult in
“If you only win by one goal and have to take that
advantage into the second leg, you know you have to
really concentrate in the second game or you can be
However, Benitez is confident Liverpool can reach a
record 10th League Cup final.
“I am always optimistic but I do believe we can get
through to the final,” he added.
Benitez was also boosted by the return from injury of
The Czech striker came off the bench just after
half-time and proved he was over the hamstring problem
which had kept him out since Boxing Day by setting up
the goal for Steven Gerrard.
“Bringing Milan Baros on made the difference,” explained
“We needed something different and we know that he has
pace and is a tremendous runner up front and he gave us
another option with other choices in our play.”
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admitted his side
were made to work hard for their narrow win over Watford
in Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg.
Gerrard's second-half strike, deflected in by Neil Cox,
gave the Barclays Premiership side a 1-0 lead to take to
Vicarage Road for the second leg in a fortnight.
And the England midfielder was full of praise for the
way the Coca-Cola Championship side played.
He told Sky Sports: "I think Watford deserve a lot of
credit - they made it a battle and played very well.
"It's going to be a difficult second leg for sure - and
hopefully the whole squad will realise what a tough game
we've got down there."
Gerrard revealed: "At half-time the manager felt we
under-estimated Watford a bit.
"He told us to pass the ball quicker and fight a bit
more - but we've won well and we'll take some positives
disappointed with Reds
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez admitted his side were
not at their best during the 1-0 Carling Cup semi-final
first leg win over Watford at Anfield.
Benitez said: "I was disappointed at half-time, we were
losing the ball too easily but we improved. We had
problems but in the end we controlled it.
"I am happy in the end, the win is the most important
"We knew it would be a difficult game, they ran a lot,
played well and with confidence and they were
Benitez praised the contribution of striker Milan Baros,
who came off the bench during the second half after a
month sidelined with a hamstring problem.
He added: "He gives a different option for the team, he
runs, he is quick, and it isimportant to have different
possiblities in attack.
"We have lots of confidence in this game, we know it is
important for us totry and do our best.
"We have the advantage, we can play well at home and
Gerrard gives Liverpool League Cup edge
BBC Sport Online
Steven Gerrard scored just after the interval to
ensure Liverpool will take a lead into the second leg of
their Carling Cup semi-final with Watford.
Gerrard drove home via a deflection from Neil Cox after
substitute Milan Baros' run and cross from the left.
The Reds were otherwise disappointing, Florent Sinama
Pongolle volleying over and Gerrard quiet in the
Hameur Bouazza missed two great chances for the Hornets
while Bryn Gunnarsson headed straight at keeper Jerzy
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez picked a near
full-strength side to face the Hornets and they began
strongly, with Paul Jones' goal under immediate
Gerrard and Luis Garcia blasted wide from long range
before the Spaniard hit a volley from 25 yards that
forced Jones to make a low diving stop.
Antonio Nunez then raced down the right and got to the
byeline, his superb cross falling at the feet of
Pongolle only for the Frenchman to volley over from six
Watford were struggling to get a hold on the game in
midfield with Gerrard dominating affairs, but a neat
passing move 17 minutes in gave the Championship side
two chances to take a shock lead.
First, a teasing cross from the right fell to Bouazza
who sliced his effort wide and then Paul Devlin crossed
for Gunnarsson to head straight at Dudek from seven
The Hornets seemed to gain strength from their near
misses and, as the Anfield crowd quietened, Ray
Lewington's side began to have a greater influence on
Gavin Mahon and Gunnarsson took control of the middle of
the park from Gerrard and though Watford did not create
any more clear-cut chances in the first half, they were
by far the more assured of the two teams.
After the break the Reds seemed to step up a gear and
both Neil Mellor and Gerrard tested Jones with low
drives, before Mellor was taken off and replaced by the
Benitez's change paid immediate dividends as Baros
scampered away down the left and after his cross was
parried by Jones, Gerrard fired in a goalbound shot
which Cox headed into the roof of the net.
Liverpool's main problem was Heidar Helguson's aerial
threat and his nod back across goal from a free-kick was
brilliantly intercepted by Jamie Carragher with
Gunnarsson lurking dangerously.
The Icelander then sent Bouazza through with a fabulous
flick, only for the 19-year-old to blaze his left-foot
shot high over Dudek's crossbar.
Baros looked lively after a month spent in and out of
action with a hamstring problem and he lashed a shot
just past the post with Jones scrambling across his
With the clock ticking down Watford had a great chance
to level the tie, but as Helguson burst through he was
denied by a stunning last-ditch tackle from Djimi